‘Hercules’ proves the adage ‘everything old is new again’. Representing the ‘sword and sandal’ epics proliferating cinemas in the 1950’s, ‘Hercules’ arrives with its umpteenth cinematic adventure. With a public eager for anything resembling the current popular TV hit ‘Game of Thrones’, its arrival is opportune. Unfortunately it’s directed by Brett Ratner, a helmer of infamous cinematic disasters even Hercules would find impossible to survive.
The powerful son of Zeus, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) hires himself out as a sword for hire. Roaming the land searching for new horizons, his services soon become needed. The King of Thrace (John Hurt) enlists his help in defeating a wicked warlord. Needing all the strength he can muster, Hercules aims to crush his enemies and be rid of any evil darkening his world.
From its’ opening moments ‘Hercules’ revels in its opulent grandeur. Looking as spectacular as you’d expect, it successfully brings Hercules’ world to life. Aiding this are the many action sequences which are dazzlingly staged. For every grunting, roaring and sweating moment though there’s a downside. As the movie grinds on it becomes a repetitive menagerie of sword fights and bad plotting. Inexplicably ignoring Hercules’ rich mythology, the original story feels as generic as similar recent films.
Johnson does his best to rise above the plot mediocrity. Whilst he isn’t the world’s greatest actor, he looks good while flexing his chiselled physique. It seems that’s all that’s needed for this version of Hercules as Ratner’s direction shows little flair or imagination. As the person responsible for nearly killing off the X-Men franchise with ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’, his reputation precedes him. ‘Hercules’ doesn’t do him any favours with his usual mix of action and silly humour failing to register much interest.
Although it had potential to be great, ‘Hercules’ ultimately plays like a dumb action flick. It’s a predictable yarn with CGI and muscled torsos doing most of the work. No thinking is required while viewing with its brevity its only truly redeeming feature.
Rating out of 10: 4
Occasionally there are works deflating my love of movies. Some have been such horrible experiences they serve as a bench-mark for poor quality. ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie’ manages to reach the apex of lowest common denominator film-making. Cheaply made with lashings of 70’s-style racism and homophobia, its meagre plot drowns in a sea of smutty vulgarity. What worked for its successful British TV incarnation doesn’t work for film with its ‘nudge-nudge wink-wink’ humour something even Benny Hill wouldn’t have touched.
Agnes Brown (Brendan O’Carroll) runs a family stall at a local market. Mother to several children, she does her best to put up with their antics. When learning a shady Russian businessman wants to turn the market into a shopping complex, she decides to defend her turf. Taking him to court, Agnes and her brood cause a huge furore as their case makes national headlines.
Like someone at a party telling totally inappropriate jokes, ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie’ is wince inducing. The incoherent plot, shambolic direction and appalling gags magnify its origins as a lazy cash-in. Written by star O’Carroll, his attempts to turn it into an ode to his native Dublin fails to show off any of its local colour. Whilst his character of Agnes is meant to represent a ‘typical Dubliner’, it’s an ugly portrait. Glossed with a veneer of false sentimentality, this end of pier-style adult pantomime runs out of steam long before its very predictable conclusion.
Overshadowing the entire film is its offensive attitude. The disabled, homosexuals and various nationalities receive a drubbing from O’Carroll’s poisonous pen. Featured as grotesque stereotypes, the quality of their portrayal mirrors the comedic abattoir in which O’Carroll resides. Gags involving bestiality aren’t funny either with this witless and mean-spirited production failing to reach higher than the bottom of the barrel from whence it came.
‘Mrs Browns Boys D’Movie’ is a deceptive and cruel beast. Behind its masque of hilarity lies a seething cesspit of crudity and malice. It’s a celluloid abomination richly deserving of its place in cinema’s Hall of Shame.
Rating out of 10: 0